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Last Will & Testament

A last will and testament is a legal document that outlines your final wishes and instructions for the distribution of your assets and the management of your affairs after your death. It allows you to have control over how your property is distributed, designate guardians for minor children, and appoint an executor to oversee the administration of your estate.

Key Elements of a Last Will and Testament

  1. Executor: The executor is the person you choose to carry out the instructions in your will. This individual will be responsible for managing your estate, paying debts and taxes, and distributing assets to beneficiaries according to your wishes.
  2. Beneficiaries: Beneficiaries are the individuals or entities who will receive your assets after your death. You can specify different beneficiaries for different assets and include specific bequests or instructions for certain items or amounts.
  3. Guardianship Designation: If you have minor children, your will provides an opportunity to name a guardian who will be responsible for their care in the event of your death. It is crucial to choose someone you trust and who shares your values and parenting style.
  4. Asset Distribution: Your will allows you to determine how your assets will be distributed among your beneficiaries. You can specify percentages, specific assets, or establish trusts to manage and protect assets for certain beneficiaries.
  5. Digital Assets: In our increasingly digital world, it is important to consider your digital assets, including online accounts, social media profiles, and digital files. Your will can include instructions on how these assets should be managed or transferred after your death.
  6. Contingency Planning: Your will can address various contingencies, such as designating alternate beneficiaries or specifying what should happen if a beneficiary predeceases you.
  7. Revocation and Updates: A will can be revoked or updated at any time during your lifetime. It is essential to review and update your will periodically to reflect any changes in your circumstances, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of children.

Without a will, the state’s intestacy laws will dictate who the legal heirs are and how assets are distributed, which may not match the decedent’s wishes.

Requirements for a Legally Valid Will

For a will to be considered legally valid and enforceable under Texas probate law, certain requirements must be met:

  • The testator must be at least 18 years old, or they must be lawfully married or serving in the armed forces.
  • The testator must be of sound mind and fully competent when making decisions about final wishes and signing the will.
  • The will must be made completely voluntarily and free of any undue influence, coercion, or duress that may manipulate the testator’s true wishes.
  • The testator must have clear testamentary intent to leave property to named heirs at the time of death.
  • All wills must meet execution requirements such as proper signatures, witnessing, and notarization. Additional specific rules apply for handwritten wills vs formal typed wills.

It is important to note that Texas allows for holographic wills (handwritten wills) to be valid, albeit they follow specific guidelines only applicable to them that helps ensure their validity.

Trusts Created Under a Will

Wills can be used to create trusts that take effect after the testator’s death, called testamentary trusts. These customized trusts allow additional control over how assets are managed and distributed, such as:

  • Providing long-term care and financial support for minor children, dependents, or beneficiaries with special needs.
  • Preventing irresponsible spending by heirs who may squander their inheritance on poor investments or frivolous spending.
  • Protecting the inheritance from an heir’s creditors, bankruptcy, lawsuits, or divorce proceedings.
  • Reducing the estate taxes owed on a large inheritance to maximize the beneficiaries’ share.

The Takeaway

Having a thoughtfully crafted last will and testament is one of the most important steps you can take to gain control over your legacy and provide for your loved ones after you pass away. Consulting with an estate planning attorney to draw up your will, establish any trusts, and handle related matters can give you confidence that your final wishes will be carried out properly under Texas law.

By investing the time and resources into your will and estate plan, you can bring peace of mind knowing loved ones will be provided for, disputes will be avoided, and your values will live on through the distribution of your assets.

Why Choose Us?

Local Expertise: With a focus on probate and assisting clients in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, we understand local peculiarities and leverage our established network to expedite the probate process.

Vast Experience: Our attorneys bring years of dedicated experience in navigating Dallas County’s probate system.

Client-Centered Approach: We recognize the emotional stress often associated with probate administration. Our objective is to alleviate this stress by providing you with top-notch legal support.

Contact us today to arrange a FREE consultation and make the probate process simpler for you.

Our Dallas Probate Attorneys provide a full range of probate services to our clients, including drafting wills. Affordable rates, fixed fees, and payment plans are available. We provide step-by-step instructions, guidance, checklists, and more for completing the probate process. We have years of combined experience we can use to support and guide you with probate and estate matters.


Disclaimer:  The content of this website is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice and should not be acted upon without consulting a qualified probate attorney.